• David de Souza

Breakthrough Advertising: Part 1 - Persuasion

Updated: Mar 23



This book contains many timeless ideas. There are so many useful nuggets in this book that, for the first time, I am forced to split the book into two posts. You can find the core principles from Part 2 here. Want to dig deeper? Check out:

Core Principles


I have taken the lessons from 'Breakthrough Advertising' and distilled them into 7 core principles:


  1. "People don't change: only the direction of their desires do."

  2. Don't build better mousetraps. Build larger mice (or the perception that they are big). Build a fear of mice in your customers.

  3. "Your prospect must identify with your headline before he can buy from it. It must be his headline, his problem, his state of mind at that particular moment".

  4. The job of the copywriter is NOT to create desire but to channel and direct it by taking hopes, dreams, fears, desires

  5. The only job of your headline is to stop your customer and to compel her to read the second line.

  6. Your st/age in the market determines your headline.

  7. Use mental imagery through verbalization which can do 3 things (SIR):

  • Renew the claim by making it fresh again: highlight it from a different angle or use an example.

  • Intrigue the reader and pull them in by promising information, a partial payoff/open loop.

  • Strengthen the claim by measuring it or making it more vivid.

The summary of the second part of the book can be viewed here.

Remember These Core Principles:


I've condensed the core principles into an image, making memorization easier. Use this image, its caption, and Quizlet as a memory aid to help you remember the 80/20 from this book:

Stop directing Sir David. Identify the mice channeling into the stage

Q: What does 'stop' refer to?

A: The only job of your headline is to stop your customer and to compel her to read the second line.


Q: What does 'directing' refer to?

A: "People don't change: only the direction of their desires do."


Q: What does 'Sir' refer to?

A: Use mental imagery through verbalization which can do 3 things (SIR): +Renew the claim by making it fresh again: highlight it from a different angle or use an example. +Intrigue the reader and pull them in by promising information, a partial payoff/open loop. +Strengthen the claim by measuring it or making it more vivid.


Q: What does 'identify' refer to?

A: "Your prospect must identify with your headline before he can buy from it. It must be his headline, his problem, his state of mind at that particular moment".


Q: What does 'mice' refer to?

A: Don't build better mousetraps. Build larger mice (or the perception that they are big). Build a fear of mice in your customers.


Q: What does 'channel' refer to?

A: The job of the copywriter is NOT to create desire but to channel and direct it by taking hopes, dreams, fears, desires


Q: What does 'stage' refer to?

A: Your st/age in the market determines your headline.


Let me know how these summaries can be improved? Contact me via Email (david@thisdomain.co) or on Twitter



The 80/20 of Worldly Wisdom: